Hands-on reading? It can happen with this missing sounds game.
I wish I had a time machine. I’d go back to the day when the rumor started that Big Kids need to sit to learn and I’d fix that statement in a jiffy. Kids – toddlers, preschoolers, big kids – they all thrive on learning by moving and learning by doing and you can see it first hand in this missing sounds reading activity.
Even learning to read can become an engaging, full body activity. Just grab some Post-it notes and let’s get to it…
RELATED: Did you know I made a home preschool program? It’s all hands-on and all sorts of fun. Come meet PLAYING PRESCHOOL.
What do kids learn from playing with Missing Sounds?
It’s easy to get caught up in the whole language, sight words based learning that’s all the rage right now in reading education.
But reading by sight (that’s memorizing words like “said” or “was”) is only a tiny portion of the reading process. By overly focusing on sight word education, we miss the chance to teach our kids how to decode words which has consequences as they grow in reading.
Phonics got a bad rap in the 90s so skip over that word if it bugs you and instead keep repeating the phrase decoding. We are teaching kids how to decode words using their knowledge of the letter-sound relationship.
Sure, reading via memorized words can be effective… but it loses it’s effectiveness as text gets more challenging.
A highschooler who has learned to read solely by memorizing sight words is going to have a far more difficult time decoding new and unfamiliar words in text books and literature.
Reading education depends on phonemic awareness – a child’s ability to pull apart and isolate the sounds in a word. This becomes critical to their reading development.
RELATED: Have a child starting Kindergarten soon? See my “Kindergarten Readiness” skills list.
Here’s how we can help teach decoding
We add balance to their reading education by giving kids the chance to learn more about how to sound out a word / how to “attack” a word they see like a runner attacks the next hill to climb.
In this missing sounds reading activity, my son (6) was given the beginning and ending sounds in a word but needed to find the missing middle sound.
The Materials I used:
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- White butcher paper
- Post-it Notes
- Giant sharpie marker
- Painter’s tape
First thing I did was write out a bunch of CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words that had options for vowel swapping. Some that I picked: d__d, b__d, s__t, h__t.
Then I wrote out six of each vowel onto a Post-it and hid these all around my house for my son to run and track down.
OH MY – Was this ever complicated for my son…in a good way!
My son had to work his booty off trying to sound out new words using his knowledge of letters and sounds.
Around our house, I hid vowels for him to hide.
Once he found a vowel, he’d come back to the “game board” and try to find a place where the vowel could fit.
- Not every vowel worked in every word
- Most words had multiple vowel options (like hat, hit, hut, hot)
I truly watched the light bulb go off!
I got to be there as my son unlocked a little piece of reading magic and realized he could change DAD to DUD just by switching the vowels.
OH MY STARS – that is some high level and critical thinking skills.
What a moment to witness!
Biggest plug for this activity: the WHY
It can sometimes be “easier” to teach a child to read just based on sight and memorizing, but the truth is: that’s not the only way they need to learn.
With this activity, my son saw first hand the value of being able to sound out a word, having that sound knowledge, and being able to actually decode a word without any memorization.
I know when he’s older and reading complicated books, these skills learned here will help carry him over the hard parts.
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